Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Turnovers Can Kill Us: Previewing Vanderbilt at Arkansas

#25 (AP) Vanderbilt goes back on the road after a three-game home-stand when they travel to Fayetteville, Arkansas to battle the Razorbacks. Tip-off is at 9 EST/8 CST.

First-year Coach Mike Anderson, the former Missouri coach well-known for reinvigorating the "40 Minutes of Hell" style of play, has done a solid job with the Razorbacks, particularly at home. Arkansas is undefeated at home with nice wins over Michigan and Mississippi State.

Looking at the team's blueprint, the name of Arkansas' game is force turnovers and don't give turnovers. Since conference play, Arkansas is #1 in the SEC in defensive turnover percentage (turnovers forced/possessions) and steal percentage (steals/possessions), while they are #5 in the SEC in giving turnovers and steals. The team is also stingy defending the three-point line. All of these factors make this the kind of game that can be a trap for the 'Dores, who are not the greatest at taking care of the ball and whose offense is relatively reliant on the three. While Vandy showed signs of its ability to take care of the ball and dominate the interior offensively against MTSU, one game is too small a sample to officially declare the problems fixed.

In terms of every other category, however, Arkansas lags behind. They aren't very efficient on offense and defense. Additionally, they lack a solid interior presence and allow a lot of offensive rebounds while not getting too many themselves. Finally, they foul a lot, putting people on the line 39.3% of every field goal attempt in SEC play.

Despite that, they are a very talented, and very young, squad led by five-star freshman point guard B.J. Young. This is the kind of team that can really bite you if you don't bring a good defensive game. As a team they don't shoot the three that well, but Young and Mardracus Wade can stroke it. The key will be to try and slow Arkansas down into half-court offensive sets, where they are not nearly as effective. CKS' defensive philosophy of burning a lot of the shot clock should work well in that regard.

From Vandy's perspective, this is another important SEC road game (aren't they all?) that can easily be overlooked with Florida looming on the horizon. The fans have been believing for a while, but this week the press is starting to believe. With such high initial expectations, it would be nice if Vandy won a game like this: a game where they should win but can easily beat themselves. Then we'll see how we do against the conference's elite.


jaybeas said...

Arkansas actually lost at home early in the season - to Houston. They are undefeated at home in SEC play, though. Should be a good game - not a necessary win, but a great confidence-booster if we can get it.

Aaron Novick said...

The Houston game was technically a neutral-site game, but yeah, it was in Arkansas and was surely a primarily home crowd.

We ought to win this game and I think we will. We've been better about turnovers lately; this would be a good game to continue that trend.

Bobby O'Shea said...

Bad news: Jimmy Dykes is calling the game.

jaybeas said...

@ipof, good catch - didn't realize it was technically a neutral site. I stand corrected.